When examining almost every client survey over the past 7 or 8 years in the veterinary industry, there are some loud messages coming through from animal owners. These findings should be alerting all of us to the fact that some of our clients are frustrated and begging for services that we aren't providing. What are those messages and what can we learn from them?
- The cost of animal care is expensive. And veterinarians, right or wrong, get blamed for much of this expense. Many clients perceive that our methodologies which include poor access to veterinarians and poor communications make veterinarians appear to be money hungry and uncaring.
- Veterinarians are a crucial, respected part of animal care, though for most animal owners, a part that they dread, mostly because it is very expensive, and they don't understand what they are getting and why it costs so much.
- Veterinarians are difficult to reach to get simple guidance and advice without clients having to make an appointment and pay for it.
- About 80% of animal owners perform a Google search either before or after seeing a veterinarian, in an attempt to try to learn more about what is right for their animal. By walling ourselves off and not being available to answer simple questions, we relegate ourselves to only crisis medicine, and less and less to routine animal care. Consequently, veterinarians have lost influence over many areas of animal care to other, less-credentialed service providers, simply because they are more available and willing to listen.
- Clients view veterinarians as poor business managers, primarily because their methodologies are largely inwardly focused, rather than client-focused. This is a sign that we are listening, whether we aren't interested, or we don't understand. But we're not listening.
We need to listen to what our clients are saying or we risk losing more market share to other, non-veterinary providers.